He was described by police as a "Teflon Don" who thought himself untouchable by the law.
But Alan Smart will be spending this Christmas behind bars after being jailed for life.
Smart, 39, of Shrewsbury Crescent, Sunderland, was handed a life sentence in March this year after being convicted of arson with intent to endanger life.
He will serve a minimum of seven-and-a-half years behind bars - and be on licence for life when released.
His trial, which lasted five weeks, heard that Smart was recruited by a significant drug dealer to recover debts, set fire to a car and the front door of a house in Seaham.
Another fire at a different address in Seaham caused damage which cost more than £60,000 to repair.
Smart's family have been back in the news this week following vandalism at the grave of Alan Smart Senior - the criminal's father.
He died in 2002 at the age of just 42, and now his final resting place at a cemetery in Ryhope Road has been desecrated.
Jimmy Smart, 68, is Alan Senior's brother.
“They are nothing more than cowards and they’ve left some of our family too upset to speak about it.
“None of what’s gone on has got anything to do with my brother because he died more than 15 years ago now."
Smart Junior's trial, which took place at Teesside Crown Court earlier in the year, also heard that the 39-year-old had "used fire as a weapon" in carrying out his criminal work.
He was on bail for two fires when he started a third at Seaham, with Judge Deborah Sherwin branding his actions "evil and wicked almost beyond belief".
Speaking after Smart's conviction, Detective Inspector Dave English, of Northumbria Police, said: "He was like the Teflon Don, and thought he was untouchable.
"A number of prosecutions against him over the years could not succeed due to witness difficulties.
"Even hardened, organised, criminals were frightened of him. "That he is now starting a life sentence, and will be on licence for life whenever he is released, shows that he is not untouchable."